Aussies these days can be empathetic when factories close and iconic badges retire, and so it may soon be for Americans who love the Dodge Viper.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles formed as a result of getting through the GFC as okay as possible, but it has also meant development of niche models such as the Viper supercar halted.
Automotive News reports that in ongoing discussions over union agreements, the Detroit factory that builds the Viper will be closed from 2017. The company’s $5.3 billion future product plan also makes no mention of a next Viper. The Connor Avenue Assembly plant has long been rumoured to close among the US press.
The current Viper is a fourth-generation revamp of a model launched in 2012. By now it is well over the bell curve of where sports car popularity peaks and Dodge is reportedly struggling to sell the supercar in decent numbers, forcing the factory to have multiple shutdown days. Automotive News reports just 760 Vipers were sold in 2014.
If the Viper dies it will also see the taking down of the last of the mega-sized naturally aspirated engine and what is currently the torquiest atmo passenger car donk in the world. It currently runs an 8.4-litre V10 that produces 477kW and 813Nm.
The current Viper was built on an entirely unique rear-wheel drive platform. With FCA desperate to cut costs via platform sharing – the next ‘big thing’ in product development efficiency – it will leave this mega Dodge exposed.
Without sales in the Continent and with US sales slowing, its fate beyond 2017 looks to be decided. It will be especially sad when FCA’s Australian arm were reportedly keen to convince Detroit to build any new sports cars in right-hand drive in order to cross the Pacific to our sports-car-loving market.